When Chris Columbus signed on to direct the 2001 film adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s beloved novel, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” he agreed to adhere to Rowling’s mandate that only British actors star in the big-budget fantasy adaptation. The “Brits only” rule famously resulted in some of Hollywood’s biggest stars being rejected from the film.
The most famous of these rejections was Robin Williams, who was offered the role of the beloved Hogwarts gamekeeper, Hagrid. Williams was reportedly excited about the prospect of playing the part, but ultimately had to turn it down due to the “Brits only” rule. Williams’ agent, John M. Kelly, told the New York Times in 2001 that the actor was “very disappointed” about not being able to take the role.
Other big-name actors who were reportedly offered roles in the film, but had to turn them down due to the “Brits only” rule, include Nicolas Cage, who was offered the role of Professor Dumbledore, and Jim Carrey, who was offered the role of Gilderoy Lockhart.
The “Brits only” rule was ultimately a success, as the casting of British actors in the film was widely praised. The film went on to become a massive success, grossing over $974 million worldwide and launching the lucrative Harry Potter film franchise.
While some of Hollywood’s biggest stars were turned down for the film, the “Brits only” rule ultimately resulted in the perfect cast for the beloved adaptation.